Carbon monoxide is one guest you don’t want to invite into your home this Christmas season. It’s silent and deadly.
Carbon Monoxide symptoms can be hard to spot because they resemble flu-like symptoms. The six main symptoms to look out for are headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide, commonly referred to as CO, is an invisible, odourless, colourless, toxic gas.
How is it produced?
Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of common fuels such as gas, coal, natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene and methane, or any other combustible material such as wood, cloth or paper. Fuels burn incompletely when there isn’t an adequate supply of oxygen.
What are the potential sources?
Potential sources found in your home and garage include:
- Clogged chimney flues
- Water heaters
- Gas space heaters
- Wood and gas stoves
- Charcoal grills and barbecues
- Vehicle exhaust fumes
- Tobacco smoke
- Vehicle exhaust, especially from attached garages or vehicles parked close to ventilation intakes
How can I prevent it?
The risk of poisoning reductions significantly when appliances are frequently maintained and correctly ventilated.
Fuel-burning appliances, such as furnaces, stoves and fireplaces, as well as chimneys and vents should be cleaned and inspected every year before cold weather sets in.
Vents for fuel-burning appliances should always be clear of debris.
Gas and charcoal barbecues should be used outside, away from all building openings.
Portable fuel-burning generators should be used outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from building openings. Portable fuel-burning heaters should be vented properly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Other ways to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Never using the stove or oven to heat your home.
- Open the flue for adequate ventilation before using a fireplace.
- Never run a vehicle or other fuelled engine or motor inside a garage, even if the garage doors are open.
- Always remove a vehicle from the garage immediately after starting it.
Carbon monoxide alarms
Where can I purchase a Carbon Monoxide alarm?
Modern CO alarms are similar in design to smoke alarms (which do not detect CO) and can be purchased from around £15.00 at most major retail outlets including DIY stores and supermarkets.
What should I do if the alarm goes off?
Follow the steps below if you or anyone in your home is suffering from symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Get everyone out of the home immediately.
- Call 911 or your local emergency services number from outside the building.
- Do not return to your home until an official advises that it is safe to do so.
- If your alarm sounds and no one is suffering from symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, check to see if the battery needs replacing or the alarm has reached its end-of-life before calling 911.
How do I test and replace the alarm?
- Alarms should be tested monthly by pressing the test button.
- Replace batteries every year.
- Replace alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
What should I do if I suspect CO poisoning?
Get fresh air immediately. Open doors and windows, turn off gas appliances and leave the house.
See your doctor immediately or go to hospital – let them know that you suspect CO poisoning. They can do a blood or breath test to check.
If you think there is an immediate danger, call the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999.
Ask a Gas Safe registered engineer to inspect your gas appliances and flues to see if there is a dangerous problem.
Remember, the risk of poisoning reductions significantly when appliances are frequently maintained, contact Arktek today on 0191 516 6911 to arrange a Gas Safety Check to protect your home against Carbon Monoxide.